8 Important Winter Safety Tips For Dogs
The winter comes with many different conditions that we need to be mindful of for our own safety and our dogs safety; cold rain, freezing air, snow and sleet all come with the season. We bundle ourselves up in the winter to avoid feeling cold and preventing the possibility of catching hypothermia or frostbite. It's typically assumed that because a dog is covered in fur, they are more receptive to severe weather; this couldn't be more untrue. Yes, some breeds are bred for winter; however, most dogs are used to the warmth and comfort of the indoors and have a low tolerance for cold weather. Every dog has a different threshold for cold weather, and it's based on their fat stores, coat, and overall health.
Before the climate changes, consider these factors and follow the below 8 important winter safety tips for dogs:
Do NOT Leave Your Dog Outside
Under no circumstance should your dog be left outside. This includes inside a car; cars trap the cold inside, which can cause your dog to freeze to death. Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite. Some dogs may tolerate the colder months better than others, but regardless, no dog should be left outside under any circumstance.
Stay Away From Icy Surfaces
Ice on the sidewalk, frozen lakes and ponds, or other slippery surfaces can harm your dog in many ways. When walking on icy surfaces, dogs lack mobile stability, which can be harsh on their joints. When walking on a lake or a pond, their weight may not be supported and the ice may crack or break. It's always better to be safe than sorry; stay away from these potential hazards.
Dogs typically burn more calories in the winter just by trying to stay warm, so there is no need to take them on enormously long walks. It's recommended that you shorten the length of their walks and increase playtime indoors to compensate.
Proper Winter Grooming
If your dog's fur naturally grows thick, don't shave them right to their skin. Be sure to leave a little fluff to give them that extra layer of protection in the winter. Always keep their paws groomed, especially in between their pads, this will eliminate the snow/ice buildup they get when walking outdoors.
After Walk Care
Always wash and wipe their paws and stomach when coming in from a walk. Antifreeze, coolant, and salt are poisonous to dogs, so you'll want to make sure their paws are always clean. You don't want them to ingest the harsh chemicals by licking their paws or stomach region after a walk.
Dress Them For Winter
If you are cold while walking your dog, chances are, your dog is feeling it too, especially if they aren't adequately equipt. Purchase a good quality jacket or sweater that will keep them warm and a pair of waterproof boots if they tolerate wearing them. Check out our article Winter Coats For Dogs - Are They Necessary? to learn more about the benefits of dressing your dog in the winter and how to properly fit them for a jacket.
Give Them A Warm Place To Rest
If your dog doesn't have the privilege of sleeping with you, make sure your dog has a warm and comfortable bed to rest in at night. Having to sleep on a cold hard floor will keep them up at night. When placing their bed, try to keep it on warmer/carpeted surfaces. Floor tiles can get pretty chilly in the winter months.
Keep Their Pads Protected
Just as our skin chaps, cracks, and dries out in the winter, so do your dog's paw pads. The harsh temperatures and ground salts/deicers can crack their pads, which can become quite painful for them, especially when out in the cold. Try routinely using a pet moisturizer on their pads to prevent weather damage. This works exceptionally well after washing their paws once returning home from a walk or trip outside.
Helpful Winter Suggestions:
- If there is an extensive amount of snow and you are unable to walk your dog, shovel a small area in the back or out front for them to do their business with ease.
- Don't allow your dog to eat snow. Many deicing chemicals can be found outdoors in the winter, so be mindful of what your dog is doing while being walked.
- If your winters are anything like the ones we have in Canada, be prepared for anything. We often get snowstorms, blizzards, freezing rain, power outages, etc. Always keep a blanket handy for your pupper should the power go out.
If you have any pet winter safety tips of your own, please comment below!
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